500 years of wishes that survived

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Daughter: I’m a graduate student here. My mom’s visiting me. We went to the Congo exhibit, went to the Scream person. Classical Italian drawings. I come here a few times whenever my parents come to visit. My mom’s an art historian, a professor of Art History.

Mother: I teach at Goucher College and Patterson as an adjunct. Specialize in Antwerp painting – Late Renaissance and early Baroque in Northern Europe.

Daughter: I’m in the History department. I like it because like, oh yeah people were living and they weren’t just in books.

Mother: Stepping out of the pages.

Daughter: It fleshes out these things I’m reading about. Oh, the English Revolution, so we want to look at a pretty bridge because we’re stressed about all the smog in the air.

Us: I think we have a Bosch, at least one in the school of Bosch.

Mother: [Bosch] spawned Boschiana – a whole industrial production of pictures in his vein in Antwerp. Very successful in his time. And he established a genre and it became popular to create a Bosch.

Daughter: It’s like Zara making whatever is on Gucci.

Mom: It’s a completely capitalist mindset. The Antwerp art market is where the modern art market has its roots.

Daughter: Sounds very Eurocentric, Mom. I bet China was doing this way before.

Mom: Possibly, possibly.

Daughter: I’m studying the history of modern Africa so every time mom goes on her Eurocentric thing I have to calm her down. I thought the Congo exhibit was amazing … the Nkisi statues with all the ties – I’m not sure what it’s actually called – but if I could say that I saw something in this museum that really affected me, it would be that. Because it’s so profound to see, because [the ties are] all wishes and prayers that have been in existence for like 500 years. But they’re huge and they were systems of bargains … you’d come with someone and you’d make a contract and you’d tie it. Repository of so many agreements and wishes … and in a place where [it is] the opposite of humanity, you know the Congo civil war so messed up there. 500 years of wishes that survived in this tropical environment.

Photo and Interview by Jane Urheim and Pleasant Garner